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"You don't look Native to me"

Maria Sturm | North Carolina, United States

Daniel, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina in Saint Pauls, NC

„You don‘t look Native to me“ is a quote and the title of a series that shows excerpts from the lives of young Native Americans from around Pembroke, Robeson County, North Carolina, where 89% of the city’s population identifies as Native American. The town is the tribal seat of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina, the largest state-recognized Native American tribe east of the Mississippi River, which means they are federally unrecognized and therefore have no reservation, nor any monetary benefits. Unlike many other Native American tribes, the people of Robeson County were never forced to move. For this reason, they formed a very strong bond to place, locally referred to as the swamp.

Maria Sturm's conceptual approach offers glimpses into knowledge from a variety of disciplines: history, anthropology, sociology, mythology mediated by symbols and a specific visual language. The depicted people always stand in various relationships to each other. She strives to bring these relationships out by means of special spatial arrangements of the pictures, formal codes of color, by a careful choice of symbols and composition. Her interests originate in questions of identity and perception, in particular as they pertain to ethnic groups with lifestyles distinct from those of the mainstream. Maria has worked with people around the world (Russia, Vietnam, Israel, Georgia, France, Romania, USA) to document the struggle for recognition in the face of pressure for uniformity in post-industrial societies.


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